My original intention was to create another recipe for this week's blog but as circumstances would have it, I was inspired to write about gratitude instead. There's been a lot of talk about gratitude lately, with everyone posting and tweeting the things they're grateful for. I suppose those of us who are more enlightened can readily find things to be grateful for. And others (like myself) need life to get a little messy before they start appreciating the good things.
This whole process of self-reflection was prompted by my birthday. To me, birthdays are kind of like New Year's in the sense that I evaluate what I've done in the previous year and set goals for the future. Birthdays are also a time when we're encouraged to be kind to ourselves and treat ourselves to things we would normally say no to.
Like I said, sometimes life needs to knock you down before you start noticing the beauty around you. Unfortunately, hardship can also encourage people to be more negative. It's like a disease that creeps into you slowly, and before you know it you're miserable all the time. It might be a job that you hate, a bad relationship, illness or financial problems. In some countries it might be political instability and the constant threat of war. Any of these things can make us prone to losing hope and only seeing the negatives in life. But the truth is there is always beauty and kindness in the world, no matter how bad the situation. A simple shift in perspective will allow us to see. And not only that, whatever goodness you find will shine even brighter against the backdrop of pain you may be experiencing. In my recent lesson, the unhappier i grew the more the good things stuck out at me and literally forced me into a new frame of mind. Having gratitude gives us hope to get through the rough patches in life.
Having gratitude also allows us to see the potential for greatness in life, and encourages us to walk away from situations that only lead to pain and destruction. This year for my birthday I walked away from negativity. But it doesn't have to be your birthday to do something kind for yourself. If you're not happy with a situation in your life, change it. And if you can't change it immediately, keep an eye out for the good things. It will keep you strong, and trust me - when you've had a really crappy day and someone does something nice for you, it will be that much more powerful.